Saturday, December 09, 2006

Microsoft To The Rescue Of The Visually Disabled



Microsoft To The Rescue Of The Visually Disabled

Was fooling around with XP when I came upon PROGRAMS -> ACCESSORIES -> ACCESSABILITY -> MAGNIFIER. This displays a magnified strip running the full length of the screen and it shows what the mouse cursor is pointing at. You can opt for inverse colors to clearly distinguish this strip from anything else on the screen.

When you launch the program, XP throws up an information panel with a link yo can click on to get at a Microsoft web page with
with a list of Windows-based magnifying utilities.

The link clicks through to:

http://www.microsoft.com/enable/

This looks like it could be quite a useful page. In the sidebar to the left there are links to topics such as GUIDES BY IMPAIRMENTS and to CASE STUDIES & ARTICLES.

The GUIDES BY IMPAIRMENT goes to

http://www.microsoft.com/enable/guides/default.aspx

One option is

VISUAL DIFFICULTIES AND IMPAIRMENTS

This goes to:

http://www.microsoft.com/enable/guides/vision.aspx

Here there are links to particular operating systems, for example Vista and XP.

For XP you get to this page:

http://www.microsoft.com/enable/guides/vision.aspx#step1

Here there is a list of things you can do and each item on the list clicks through to a page explaining the details, eg adjusting the width and blink rate of the cursor, which goes to

http://www.microsoft.com/enable/training/windowsxp/blinkrate.aspx

Assuming you are in Classic view, the place to go is:

SETTINGS -> CONTROL PANEL -> ACCESSIBILITY OPTIONS -> DISPLAY -> CURSOR OPTIONS and you can, or so it says, adjust the blink rate and width of the cursor.

I tried this while I was working inside NoteTab to see if such an adjustment would have any effect on the cursor that I use within that text editor.

I slid the cursor way up to WIDE but it made no difference whatsoever to my cursor inside NoteTab.

I then tried the DISPLAY "High Contrast" option to see what that would do.

Okay, this is great. When I'm working in NoteTab the space into which I input is no different but all the pulldown menus are now magnificently sharp, white on black. This is a very good resource to have, and I will use this option when I reinstall XP.

Okay, I just fired up my website copier, Httrack, to make a copy of everything linked to Microsoft's "enable" page, and, using Httrack, I saw that the wide cursor was enabled.

Out of curiosity, I fired up Microsoft Word. There was the same clarity in the pulldown menus but the cursor was unchanged.

I looked at UltraEdit and there, too, the cursor was unchanged.

But having the pulldown menus so sharp and clear is really marvellous. This does not mean that I love Microsoft. Sado-masochistic relationships are not to my taste.

All going well, if Blogger is working, at the top of this entry there will be a screenshot showing the crisp menus visible.

NoteTab Light, by the way, is a free version of a very capable text editor. I can, amongst other things, modify text files to HTML at the click of a button, enormously useful for me when I want to put a chunk of a book up on a website.

Okay, just a little more on the high contrast option and the cursor changes that I made. The modified cursor works in programs such as Httrack and PrintKey. It also works if you open up a folder like MY DOCUMENTS where you get the crystal clear menus.

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